Opposition to a Trademark

What is a USPTO Opposition Proceeding?

Another Company filed a Trademark Application in the United States Patent & Trademark Office that is almost identical to our Trademark.  What can we do?  Can we institute an Opposition?

In view of such facts, your company has at least the following options:

  • Do nothing
  • Purchase the troublesome Trademark
  • Send a Cease and Desist Letter
  • If your company owns a federal Registration, institute a federal Trademark infringement legal action in the appropriate jurisdiction and venue
  • Possibly – institute a False Designation of Origin legal action in the appropriate federal jurisdiction and venue
  • Initiate a trademark infringement proceeding in a state court under the appropriate state statute or at common law
  • Initiate a legal proceeding before the USPTO’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board

Which option is more cost-beneficial for your company? That is management’s decision.  As a general rule, the legal costs of an Opposition Proceeding are much less than the legal costs of a federal or state law infringement case.

15 U.S.C. 1063, in part, reads:

Any person who believes that he would be damaged by the registration of a mark upon the principal register, including the registration of any mark which would be likely to cause dilution by blurring or dilution by tarnishment under section 1125(c) of this title, may, upon payment of the prescribed fee, file an opposition in the Patent and Trademark Office, stating the grounds therefor, within thirty days after the publication under subsection (a) of section 1062 of this title of the mark sought to be registered….”

Any person who believes he/she/it could be damaged by the registration of the Mark on the Principal Register of the United States can institute an Opposition Proceeding before the USPTO’s Trademark Trial and Appeal.  If the Opposer successfully proves the case, the Trademark Application will not mature into a federal Registration.

Oppositions are generally less costly to litigate than cases in the federal or state courts.  Like cases in the federal courts, the Federal Rules of Evidence and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure apply to an Opposition Proceeding.

Oppositions can be conducted with or without oral hearings before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB).

Successful Opposition Proceedings

For an Opposer (plaintiff) to be successful before the TTAB, they must prove one or more of the following:

  • (1) Defendant’s [the owner of the mark] mark so resembles a mark registered in the Office, or a mark or trade name previously used in the United States by another and not abandoned, as to be likely, when used on or in connection with the goods or services of the defendant, to cause confusion, or to cause mistake, or to deceive.
  • (2) Defendant’s mark, when used on or in connection with the goods or services of the defendant, is merely descriptive or deceptively misdescriptive of them.
  • (3) Defendant’s mark is geographically deceptive, that defendant’s mark consists of or comprises immoral, deceptive, or scandalous matter, that defendant’s mark falsely suggests a connection with plaintiff’s name or identity, or that defendant’s mark is a geographical indication which, when used on or in connection with wines or spirits, identifies a place other than the origin of the goods and was first used on or in connection with wines or spirits by the applicant on or after January 1, 1996.
  • (4) There was no bona fide use of defendant’s mark in commerce prior to the filing of the use-based application for its registration under Trademark Act § 1(a), for a Trademark Act § 1(b) application, within the expiration of the time for filing a statement of use.
  • (5) Defendant did not have a bona fide intent to use the mark in connection with the identified goods/services as of the filing date of the application under Trademark Act § 1(b).
  • (6) Defendant is not (and was not, at the time of the filing of its application for registration) the rightful owner of the registered mark.
  • (7) The term for which registration is sought or for which registration has been obtained has not been used as a trademark or service mark.
  • (8) Defendant’s mark has been abandoned due to nonuse with intent not to resume use.
  • (9) Defendant’s mark is the title of a single creative work and not considered a trademark.
  • (10) That Defendant’s mark is generic.

If your enterprise needs legal assistance procuring/managing/enforcing your Trademarks/Service Marks, please contact Business Patent Law, PLLC.

Business Patent Law, PLLC provides intellectual property and business counsel for businesses and companies.

If you would like to stay up-to-date with news that impacts your business and intellectual property, sign up for Business Patent Law’s Monthly Mailer™ newsletter.